What to expect at the GTBank 9th annual autism conference   

What to expect at the GTBank 9th annual autism conference   

As Africa’s foremost financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank, prepares to host world leading experts in autism, members of the health community, pa

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As Africa’s foremost financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank, prepares to host world leading experts in autism, members of the health community, parents and guardians of children living with autism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, care givers and the society in general, to its annual autism conference, it becomes imperative for all expected attendees to know what to expect and benefit from the gathering beyond the regular sitting and listening to speech after speech.

Unlike other past editions, this year’s edition which is the ninth in the series, is expected to be different because issues relating to the transition of a child living with autism into adulthood and all of the other things that help to shape the transition period, viz a viz, relationships, support systems etc. will take centre stage. Discussions are expected to move beyond just mere diagnosis and will center around helping children on the Autism Spectrum move successfully from one phase of their life to another.

For this reason, this year’s conference theme has been aptly tagged ‘Autism: Transitions, Vocational Skills and the role of Technology’. Talks will centre around transitions in the education and health system of children living with autism through adolescents into adulthood and beyond. In other words, studying a child living with autism to know where his strength in skills and interests lies and channeling all the needed support towards that area of interest and guiding the child in making a success of it as the child approaches adulthood. Also anticipating and administering the health needs of children living with autism as they transition to adulthood is imperative.

Dr Showunmi Ladipo, Dotun Aknde, Babjide and Dr Yewande Oshodi

Transition planning is expected to cover schooling, work, getting the right work environment, adulthood, medication, right services their age requires, and pro-actively anticipating these things and attending to them. This is just as learning about the evolution of these children’s personal needs and health issues and how to help them fit in is also important as one can’t run away from new health and needs issues that come up regularly in children living with autism. This is all the more imperative as every child in the spectrum has peculiar issues and solutions, and transitions isn’t really one size fits all.

With over 25 facilitators and specialists expected at the annual conference, with some billed as speakers at the actual two day conference which will hold at the Muson Centre on July 30th and 31st between 9am and pm, others will serve as consultants for the free one on one consultation for children with Autism and other developmental challenges, as well as counselling for parents and guardians. There will also be sessions for Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Behaviour Analysis, Audiology, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychiatry, Physiotherapy, and Occupational Therapy. This will take place between August 1st and August 6th at the Digital Village, Secretariat road (behind Ikeja Mall), Alausa, Lagos.

Some of the facilitators coming in from outside the country include Dr. Loretta Burns, a leading expert in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders and the founder of ABE International Clinic; Dr. Tisa Hooper-Johnson, the Medical Director of the HFHS Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD), USA;  Janette Washington, a speech-language pathologist with nearly a decade of experience working with children living with autism and other special needs; and Ivie Emokpae, a qualified special needs coordinator from the Institute of Education London.

Others are Dotun Akande, Founder and Director of Patrick Speech and Languages Centre, (Patricks) Ikeja, Lagos; Dr. Grace Ojeamiren-Bamigboye, Certified Consultant Speech-Language Pathologist; Ijeoma Ugwu, Food Scientist cum Nutritionist; Rhoda Odigboh, Director of Academics, Bridge Nigeria; Akinyelure Abimbola, Head of Occupational Therapy Department at the National Orthopedic Hospital, Lagos; Dr. Yewande O. Oshodi, Consultant Psychiatrist & Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital etc.

Guaranty Trust Bank plc is a Nigerian financial institution that has maintained a defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy since its inception in 1990. The Bank actively supports numerous programmes across Africa that positively affect Infant and Maternal Healthcare, Education, the Arts, Community Development and the Environment.